In the venue for the Dior show today, one of the most extraordinary feats in recent fashion history took place. In the Louvre’s Cour Carrée, the ancient heart of an ancient palace, a mirrored tent was erected, perfectly rendering its environment in such a way that the tent was invisible. It was like the present had ceased to exist. An appropriate cue for the collection that Raf Simons showed, in which the 18th century and the 22nd century knocked boots, bypassing everything in between. The effect was compounded by the futuristic whooshing on the soundtrack and the “Beam me up, Scotty” set. We were in that bedroom at the end of the world in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Here was new life, fashion’s Star Child, waiting to be born.
Simons liked what he did in July’s Couture so much that he wanted to extend the experiment into ready-to-wear. Finding the future in the far past—it’s a challenge that would engage an artist in any arena. But addressing that challenge in everyday clothes produced a new poetry. It didn’t always work—the sprigged florals and the chintz were too stuffy—but the white cotton smocks touched with broderie anglaise were like bed shirts in some highwayman’s fantasy, a wicked combination of the virginal and the salacious. And the way the clinical white futurism of the first looks was infected with floral jacquard brought was and will be together with subtle precision.